Transformation industrielle OPEX 2

New industrial transformation

Aug. 23 2019 - 4 min

Buildings, infrastructures, energy, transports, manufacturing – all industrial sectors are affected by the "4.0" revolution. Now, the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, cobotics and blockchain are disrupting the industrial production processes. Against this new backdrop, players with a wide spectrum of maturity coexist. Between an aging oil rig in offshore foraging areas of the Atlantic, a metallurgical plant in Peru and a smartphone production line assisted by sensors and robots in China, there is a world of difference. What is the best way to accompany and support the industrial players of yesterday, today and tomorrow? How can their installations be secured, while at the same time fostering the development of their manufacturing processes? An illuminating overview by Karine Kutrowski, Industry &Facilities Global Technical Support and Development Director, at Bureau Veritas.

When we speak of industrial change, there are fine shades of difference which have to be taken into account. "We are not at the same level of industrial transformation in India, China, France, the US or Latin America", explains Karine Kutrowski. Then, even if products remain more or less the same, "the way in which they are going to be designed and manufactured will be turned upside down over the coming years", continues the Global Technical Support and Development Director. Typically, digitalizing industrial ecosystems will bring about significantly enhanced returns and profitability, and will literally transform the way industry operates today.

"Our trades follow industrial evolutions and transformations"

At the core of this change, trusted third-parties such as Bureau Veritas become at one and the same time guardians and guardrails of this new industrial situation. Traditionally, TIC[1] trades are back-to-back with the specific needs of each industry. "Our trades follow and even anticipate the developments and transformations of the different industries", continues Karine Kutrowski.

In the past, Bureau Veritas essentially intervened during project design and construction phases. For example, the Group would go and check whether a doll was properly manufactured or whether a building’s foundations were solidly laid; it would go and see whether the steel on equipment subject to pressure intended for a refinery had the correct composition, etc. Then trades gradually evolved towards services linked to installations in operational phase. This goes from control (regulatory or voluntary) to management of all assets and risk analysis up to implementation of inspection policies of equipment and buildings. Whether in a nuclear plant, a refinery, a new connected building or an underground station, the facility manager or integrity manager is going to do everything for the industrialist or owner to be able to operate facilities in optimized fashion, as long as possible, and, of course, in suitable conditions of safety and environmental-friendliness.

The art of reconciling past industrial processes with those of today

Because it is present on a global scale and works with clients who have very different degrees of maturity, Bureau Veritas is today balancing its service portfolio between its design & construction and operational activities, so as to optimize the way it accompanies and supports each of its clients in this process of transformation. "Today, we can, for example, accompany players in very mature geographies in assessing the compliance of their X.0 facilities comprising sensors, robots and cobots, etc., explains Karine Kutrowski. And at the same time, accompany clients in prolonging the lifetime of their aging installations in optimum conditions of safety".

Monitoring, inspecting and certifying digital facilities

Bureau Veritas is also extending its traditional business activities. In building, for example, it will continue to provide its services as a technical controller and carry out physical actions on physical buildings. At the same time, however, many players are adopting BIM components to manage digital facilities or digital models/twins. "The competences of Bureau Veritas, like society as a whole, are changing; we are going from facilities which, at the outset, were purely physical to assets which are partially or totally digital. Bureau Veritas’ processes are pursuing exactly the same change, as witness our offer on BIM", underlines Karine Kutrowski. 

Trades are evolving considerably in operational phase: inspections, which up to now have been purely regulatory, are, for example, being transformed into predictive inspection services, which make it possible to be proactive when it comes to anomalies on a building or operating plant. For all new smart and interconnected plants, the challenge is also going to be able to control data exchange.

"The role of Bureau Veritas as a Business to Business to Society company is even more decisive"

Although industrial transformation is underway, many questions are still pending. How is a cobot, half-man, half-robot, going to behave in a working environment? How are we going to guard against cyber-attacks in a plant where machines will be communicating between each other and exchanging data? How will it be possible to prevent sensitive information from leaking out? How can older equipment continue to work with new equipment?

There is still a considerable normative and regulatory vacuum concerning all these questions. Bureau Veritas is not only taking part in working groups but reflecting on its own standards, in order to best accompany its clients. The challenge is also being certain that each stage of the transformation carried out complies with current state-of-the-art. For mature industries which are beginning to replace more and more humans by robots, or by artificial intelligence, decisions are going to be taken in an increasingly automatic way.

"In the way things develop, Bureau Veritas is going to be playing a very important role ", explains Karine Kutrowski.There will be an increasing need for an independent, trustworthy player to guarantee transparency and reliability of processes that are going to become increasingly smart and complex".

[1] TIC: Testing, Inspection, Certification